Rwenzori Mountains National Park (RMNP), a UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated in Western Uganda. It is found along the Eastern side of the Western Albertine Rift Valley Uganda and Congo border. The Mt. Rwenzori National Park is one of the oldest parks, created in 1991, and in 1994, it was declared a UNESCO site.

Rwenzori Mountains National Park gets its name from the Mountains of the Moon also popular as the Rwenzori Mountain ranges. This is a block mountain also home to Africa’s 3rd tallest mountain. The Rwenzori Mountains comprise 6 peaks, but the highest is Margherita (5109m). 5 additional peaks/mountain ranges include Mount Luigi da Savoia, Mt. Stanley, Baker, Speke, and Emin Pasha. The summits of the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon are breathtaking, and snow-capped making it one of the very few distinct block mountains.

The Rwenzori Mountains also feature unique vegetation -the alpine areas with floral species, waterfalls, snowfields, glaciers, and more. The distinct vegetation zones vary depending on the altitude but consist of mosses, bamboo, moorland, lobelias, heathers, and montane forests.

History

In 1991, The Rwenzori Mountains National Park was fully gazette as a National Park in Uganda. Later in 1994, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site considering its incredible natural beauty. Today, this beautiful UNESCO Site occupies an area of about 998sq. km in Kasese district, Western Uganda.

Tourist Attractions to explore Mt. Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Wildlife

About 70 species of mammals live in the lush vegetation of Rwenzori Mountains National Park. They include 6 species of Albertine rift, 3 and 4 Rwenzori endemic species. The key mammals at the park include chimpanzees, duikers, leopards, elephants, L’hoests monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, hyrax bushbucks, and Rwenzori otters. Reptiles like 3 horned chameleons and more.

Birds

More than 217 species of birds, the majority of which are Albertine rift endemic are sheltered here. The park’s birds include montane sooty boubou, archer’s robin chat, handsome francolin, barred long-tailed cuckoo, Rwenzori turacos, golden winged sunbird, white starred robin, cinnamon-chested bee-eaters, greenbul, flycatchers, strange weaver birds, Rwenzori batis, etc.

Lakes

Rwenzori Mountains National Park alone is estimated to have about 20 lakes and the majority of them can be seen while trekking to the Margherita peaks. They include Lake Bujuku, Lake Mahoma, and more. Lake Mahoma is at elevation of 2651m and it is the most accessible of all the park’s lakes.

Equatorial snow peaks

Rwenzori Mountains National Park is popular for its breathtaking snow-capped peaks a reason majority of hikers consider it a must-visit destination. Different peaks make up the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon; the Mt Stanley at 5109m where the Margherita is found, Baker Mountain at 4843m, Mt Speke 4890m and more.

Bulemba Houses

Bulemba are historical houses where the remains of the 1st Rwenzururu king and other leaders are sheltered including the Isaiah Mukirania Kibanzanga. On 2nd September of every year, Bakonzo gather here to commemorate their king.

Tourist Activities in Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

Mountaineering

The most thrilling adventure awaiting you on a Rwenzori Mountains National Park safari is either a mountaineering adventure or simple nature walks. This is captivating and takes you to different summits with focus to conquer the Margherita peak at 5109m. Two remarkable trails exist and they lead to the summits of Rwenzori Mountains.

The central circuit trail which takes at least 7 days or more and you navigate via Mihinga-Nyabitaba through Bujuku valley. Kilembe trails the southern route located close to Kasese town, taking you via glacial lakes and joins the central circuit at Lake Kitandara.

Nature walks

There are different ways to conquer Rwenzori Mountains and exploring the park’s hidden treasures and nature walking is one of them. The areas of interest for nature walking include Karangura ridge, Buraro chimpanzee forest, Kichwamba local communities and more. On a nature walk, you come across different species of birds, animals and enjoy the breathtaking views of the snow-capped peaks.

Bird watching

Birding in the Rwenzori Mountain National Park include sighting birds such as barred long tailed cuckoo, Rwenzori turacos, golden winged sunbird, white starred robin, montane sooty boubou, archer’s robin chat, handsome francolin, cinnamon chested bee-eaters, greenbul, flycatchers, strange weaver birds.

Cultural encounters

Rwenzori Mountains National Park is surrounded by Bakonzo, Bamba local communities and these have unique cultures, traditions, lifestyle to showcase. The best way to experience cultures here is by embarking on Bulemba-Ihandiro cultural trail. The trail lets you meet the Muhima traditional healer. Engage in hands on experience like basket weaving, fire making. And visit the Kamusonge River or visit the Konzo Museum where Rwenzururu cultures are showcased.

Best time to visit the Park

Mountaineering in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park is best done during the dry season. This is during the short and long drier months of the year; June to September or plan your mountaineering holidays in December to February.

Where to stay on a Rwenzori Hiking Safari?

On mountaineering, camping is the available accommodation choice for climbers. At the base, there are many comfortable places to stay before or after your trek. They include Rwenzori Backpackers, Equator Snow Lodges, Rwenzori International Hotel, Ruboni Community Camp, Ihamba Lakeside Safari Lodge, Sandton Hotel Kasese, Mihunga Safari Lodge.

Getting to the Rwenzori Mountains National Park Uganda

From Kampala city center to the Rwenzori Mountains National Park covers a distance of about 437kms. It is possible to get there using 2 routes. The Kampala via Fort Portal route or Kampala-Masaka-Kasese route. On actual climbing day, you can take Kilembe or Nyakalengija central circuit. By air; plan for chartered/scheduled flight that leave from Entebbe International Airport. Alternatively, you may use Kajansi Airfield and land at Kasese airstrip then you transfer in a 4×4 safari vehicle up to the park.

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